This Asian Country is Moving Its Capital City

By Rakini Bergundy, August 27, 2019

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On Monday, President Joko Widodo announced plans for Indonesia to relocate its capital city from Jakarta to the province of East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. Talks of this move can be dated back to 1957 with the country’s first president. 

In a televised speech Widodo stated, “The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade and services.”

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[Image via Rakini Bergundy/That’s, Simplemaps]

Jakarta, the largest city in Indonesia and home to 10 million people, sits on historically swampy land which is prone to flooding during the rainy season. Granted official status in 1966, the major trade and finance center naturally industrialized quickly. The draining of swamps, groundwater extraction and continuous decrease of upland forest vegetation increased the danger of floods, in turn leaving the capital in a vicious cycle, rendering it one of the fastest-sinking cities in the world. If current trends continue, researchers predict that “by 2050 about 95% of North Jakarta will be submerged.”

The government already owns 180,000 hectares of land in the new proposed location and chose the area for its strategic location, proximity to urban areas and ‘minimal’ risk for natural disasters. The new city will be situated against relatively undeveloped regions, Kutai Kertanegara and Penajam Paser Utara.

Environmentalists are concerned as Kalimantan is home to many rainforests and orangutans, a critically endangered species. Greenpeace Indonesia campaigner Jasmine Putri added, “The government must make sure that the new capital is not built in a conservation or protected area.”

A name has not been proposed for the new capital but construction is set to begin next year, followed by the move of 1.5 million civil servants slated for 2024. 

[Cover image via Unsplash]

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